For the past fifteen years I’ve lived in locations haunted by herons. My character Old Crane Woman (who I wrote about in The Enchanted Life, and whose stories you can find under this blog in the posts labelled ‘Grey Heron Nights’) sprang from one of those haunted places: a river in Donegal which was home to a particularly fine heronry, on the banks of which I lived for three years. Read More
This article was originally published at Caught by the River, in 2016, when I lived in Donegal.
I am a lover of bogs. There: I’ve said it. I’m a bog-woman through and through. I can lose myself on the long, pale edges of a sandy island shore; I can enchant myself in the shadows and twists of an old-growth forest – but in a bog I come back to the centre of myself again and again. ‘The wet centre is bottomless’, Seamus Heaney wrote in ‘Bogland’, and in a bog it seems to me that my centre is bottomless too, that there are no limits on my fecund, dark heart.
In the 1920s, Carl Jung was told a story by Richard Wilhelm, a Chinese scholar and theologian, which influenced him greatly, and which he repeated often through his life. It’s the story of the Rainmaker.
There is always a place in any garden of mine for roses, because roses make my heart glad. But the truth is that there is little that makes my heart gladder than to eat something I’ve grown myself in my garden. To me, the perfect, most enchanted garden is a rather messier version of the classic French potager: flowers, fruit, herbs and vegetables all mixed in together – together with a few hens (we have five) and a bee hive or two. (Or three, in our case.) Read More
Myth is the language of psyche – of soul. And the psychology I’ve actually practiced down all the years (as opposed to the disenchanted, scientistic, experimental methodology I was taught early on) has always been about soul – and has always been founded on a deep immersion in myth. Above all, it’s been about working with the mythic imagination in order to understand, express, create soul. Read More
‘Post-heroic stories aren’t focused on individual glory; they’re focused on community. On diversity. It’s not about slaying the dragon, but about harnessing his special skills – making him part of the team. It’s about understanding, and valuing, the black, feathery, croaking wisdom of a crow. It’s about living with a half-empty stomach so you can feed some of your porridge to the hungry mice – who, if you are lucky, will help you to sort the wheat from the chaff. Post-heroic stories aren’t about winning the hand of the simpering, golden-haired princess: they’re about kissing the boar-toothed, blue-faced hag.’
Sharon Blackie, ‘The Mythic Imagination’